MS Paint: A raid leaders delight

MS Paint: A raid leaders delight

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, MS paint is one of the greatest things a raid leader can use. Not just for making fancy diagrams or editing pictures with positioning marks, but also for the hilarity factor. Often times raiding can be quite stressful and anything you can do to add levity and lighten the mood can go a long way to making everyone calmer, happier, and ultimately lead to that satisfying kill. Other times it’s just awesome fun.

Back when Hyjal was progression content, my guild had a hell of a hard time with Archimonde.  As was reported in Guildwatch on wow.com, we had a whopping 103 attempts before he went down. People kept doing stupid things like you know, standing in fire. The raid leader and most of the officers were getting very frustrated, so I decided it was time to add some MS paint goodness to the mix. Here is what I whipped up:

About two nights later we downed the boss. Everyone having a good chuckle and relaxing helped a ton.

So I placed a call out on twitter for people to submit some of their own MS paint goodness and share some of the silliness with us, here is what I got.

This one is from Kris (Antikris77)

A wonderful representation of the Festergut fight!

Next up is a submission from Krizhek one of my new guildies and a local boy around town here.

I enjoy the consistency of this piece, simple and effective!

Our next piece is from our pigtail wearing warlock of doom Saresa

She broke out the color on this one!

I also received a link from the guild <Devolve> on Altar of Storms – US.  Lakini’s guildie thought that these were wroth noting and they were right! Swing over to Lakini’s blog to take a look at the Visual Guide to Plague Wing and the Visual Guide to the Crimson Halls.

Personally I love stuff like this. It makes me smile and I can look at it as a reminder that we are indeed playing a game and we are doing so to have fun. Sometimes there are fights or just things in general in the game that agitate so much it carries over to real life. Being able to take a couple steps back and add levity to the situation is not only suggested, it is also good for your health in the long run.

So how about you guys? Have any MS paint masterpieces to share with us? Any funny stories involving a humorous picture you created?

Until next time.

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

Guerrilla Raiding: How To Scale Up to 25 Mans

TheFuture

My guild is special. No, really. We’re like a guerrilla force descending from our airborne stronghold to plunge deep behind enemy lines in a surprise raid. This is, you see, an affectionate way of describing my guild’s raids.

We are a small, ten-strong band of fighters not all wearing the same colours because our roots are in a small core relying on PUGgers. It is sometimes a surprise when our raids get going, even though they’re organised in advance. Yet despite these things we’ve managed to storm the citadel right up to Rotface. Not only that, we’re thinking to scale up to 25 man operations. How I hear you cry, is that special?

My guild, you understand, is not a raiding guild. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. Herding Cats is a small group of real life friends. But many moons ago we got together, grabbed a few random PUGgers, and poked our noses into Naxxramas, like guilds do. Northrend’s raids became second homes over the months.

In ye olde Naxx runs we decided we just wanted PUGgers to be friendly. Not imbah, not a great tactician, not rocking 18k DPS. Our raids might not be lightning fast but they should be jolly good fun, old chap. Whenever we found a friendly stranger we rejoiced. And kidnapped them. Oh, we didn’t recruit – only invited them to our raids. In this way we cultivated a network of friendly people who fit in with the raiding group.

Our network of non-guildies quickly outgrew the slots we had for 10 man raiding and priority was given to people who were already raiding with us. We thought it sensible to develop a core. Tactically the group would become a single unit capable of learning encounters and to work together in order to move forward. Naturally this had social benefits for our raid members, who were rewarded with progression, loot and group friendships.

The downside of this was that many Herding friends are left out. As the raid leader/organiser, I really feel bad about this downside, as we are lucky enough to have people ask every week if there’s a raid spot for them this week even though they’re often told “I’m sorry but we’re full at the moment.”

So my guild is special but not unique. I’d wager there are a lot of guilds either already in our position or considering adapting to something like it.

How can we include people? 25 mans. Our network is big enough to fill 15-20 slots of a 25 man raid. It’s one huge step for Herding-kind. Dangerous almost. It might bite. Going into the hydra’s den unprepared is a bad idea so we’re arming ourselves and going at it as a team. We’re still thinking about it but this is the current battle plan.

1. Delegation. There are a lot of hats to wear in a 25 man so we’ve agreed to split the hats between the five of us. We’ll have leaders for each role, and they will each have a chat channel to communicate with their players. For example, in the tanks channel the tank leader will ascribe tactics to the tanks and foster communication between them. The other leaders will do the same for healers and melee and ranged DPS. The raid leader’s task is to introduce the raid, keep an eye on the group chat channels, be the deciding force in conflicts and handle unforeseen shenanigans. We’ll also have someone acting as a mentor. Unofficially we’ll have someone else as a morale officer and someone acting as a raid HR department.

2. Housekeeping. This is a brief introduction to the raid, given by the raid leader, which sets out a few basic points. These include our core principles for the run – for example, that we will welcome people amicably and expect them to do the same in return. We’ll also set out other rules on behaviour, breaks, tactics and loot. I’ve spoken before about how important this is, and it can only get more important the more people you have to organise. Setting clear rules from the start creates a safe, fun raid for everyone, Herding Cats veteran or first-timer and gives everyone a fair warning of what’s expected of them before we start.

It relaxes strangers, too. I think that people can join PUG raids expecting an atmosphere of every man for himself; having to constantly defend their playing style, DPS, healing, gear, whatever. We’ve had PUGgers say they’re pleasantly surprised to find a group where this isn’t the prevailing culture.

3. Communication. I believe the more information you communicate the more time you’ll save on wipes. Tactics are fluid things, changeable in progression content and per player experience. We’ll explain tactics for all encounters, provide a chance for suggestions and encourage raiders to ask questions in chat or privately to raid officers at any time. Officers will also keep an eye on their players and have a quiet chat if they suspect a player isn’t clear on something. “Hello Mr.. rogue, nice work on adherents there but you didn’t seem to get any time stabbing Deathwhisper. Any questions about that?” Likewise, we’ll check in with random raiders at random times to find out how they’re feeling.

Communication is most important when things go wrong. When we wipe we have a quick brainstorm in Herding Cats Land. Then we talk to the raid, saying something like “ok, what went wrong there was a deformed fanatic getting loose as phase 2 started. Easy mistake, we’ll get it right this time. Oh, and nice work on her mana shield, guys.”

4. Social. I play this game for fun, don’t know about you. It’s not a single player game and I like interacting with other people. I hope our raiders do too, but in a large group it’s easy for negativity to spread. The morale officer will keep the atmosphere cheery. The mentor’s role is just as important. It’s his task to be there for anyone who’s in any way unsure or needing reassurance. They might be new to raiding, they might be unsure in group settings, they might still be learning their class (who isn’t?). We welcome new players – given the right encouragement they can turn out to be some of the most loyal and best you’ll find.

5. Networking. We can’t fill 25 spots off the bat. We rather like that. It means that we have room to do what we did way back in Naxx times: meet new people and kidnap them to our raids. This way our network will grow whenever we find a new person we like and the entire group will benefit both in raiding and social terms.

If we get a PUGger we don’t like? We call them ‘That Guy’. You know – the guy who backseat raid leads, continually pastes DPS meters, abuses other group members. The list can go on. Ideally we’ll have a very strict policy, backed up by the housekeeping which already informed people what standards we work by. Some people have different attitudes and expectations to raiding than what they find in our group: that’s fine, but if you join a group you go by their expectations.

If someone insults our group members or any Cat finds them annoying in some way, they’re out. Sorry. I don’t care if they’re saved for one raid lockout, I don’t care if they’re the leader of the server’s top raiding guild. I don’t care if they’re hitting 11k healing every fight. I’ll protect my own group over someone who’s just griefed the priest healer they know nothing about. I think this is the most controversial point of our game plan, particularly if we just find someone annoying.

So those are the basics of our arsenal. There are some finer points such as where to begin our venture: we’re thinking ToTC25 for the first raid. It’s relatively short and should be a good ground to help the raid find its feet and bond. Not only that but it should provide some folks with bits of kit for the real progression and leave everyone salivating over the prospect of more next time. We also have a raid spam addon tailor-made for our needs in the works.

And do we, the raid officers, know what we’re doing? Why, yes, old bean. We know the enemy lines and the guerrilla force we’re leading into the Lich King’s chambers.

What about you? Is your guild in a similar position, or considering something like this – are you worried it’ll be a lot more work than you have time for? Are you in a large guild that does in house runs? Are you a PUGger who wishes you did/did not come across more groups like this? Do you think leaning a bit towards carebearing is going to hold us back or benefit us in the long term (and what’s YOUR playing style)?

A Prescription for Raid Morale

A Prescription for Raid Morale

medicine

Raiding can always be stressful.  Although the content has been called “too easy”, some of us still struggle with certain encounters.  We’ve cut our teeth on Normal Modes, and make the step up to the Heroic.  Haunting are the nights of banging our heads against Icehowl cause one raid member is just a little slow on getting out of the way.  We shake our heads in disgrace because a DPS class is too used to “being carried” when we try Yogg+Anything.  Raid nights get called early, curses ensue, and it’s just not a pretty sight.

Whether it’s in raid or out of raid, I firmly believe it’s essential to insert breaks and morale boosters.  And by breaks, I don’t mean “Take 5 for bio and beer.”  I mean something active.  A couple examples:

In-Raid

Trivia Games

Kalheim, a feisty paladin in my guild, holds trivia games during downtimes in the raid.  While waiting for invites to go out or waiting for that last member to come back from an AFK or bio break, he puts up topic-centered questions for us to compete for the fastest answer.  These quizzes will encompass a variety of topics, usually gaming-based.  He pulls out Classic WoW Lore, the names of BC Boss spells, Super Mario trivia, and even gaming company trivia.

You can reward your raiders with anything you want.  A gem, some gold, free flask/food, whatever you want.  The key is simply to make the questions challenging but not impossible.  A topic or genre you and your guild talk about often; you can include everyone.

The Whipping Boy

First off, this is pretty much a voluntary position.  In no way do you want to ostracize one of your raiders who cannot take the brunt of it.  In our guild, this whipping post has a name, and that name is Zabos.  He’s an incredibly likeable guy, but he’s really easy to tease.  He can take it, because as a player, he’s really good at what he does.  He’s one of our officers, and talks a lot of smack, so the guild will lay it on pretty thick.  The guild has built up a tradition (before my arrival) of /gkick’ing Zabos out of the guild when a new boss goes down.  It adds an extra level of fun to progression and cohesiveness of a guild.  The phrase “Shut up Zabos!” gets passed around a lot.  It just makes me laugh.

Random, Off-the-wall “Attempt

This should explain itself.  After a long night of progression, you need a break.  Something to make you laugh or wake you up.  We specifically have a Morale Officer in our guild, Shenweh, who is responsible for making sure everyone is in good spirits.  When things are getting tense or tired, it’s her job to create little fun events like this:

Out of Raid

Actual Alt Dungeons

I have several alts at a variety of levels, and I have some real life friends that all stick together.  They play super casually–usually only once each week, if at all.  Although I have two 80s, their level 45 character is their highest.  The other night, we managed to get all five of us on together to do a run of Uldaman.  There was no run-through, there was no level 80 to accompany us.  Because the healer and our hunter were lower than the rest of us, we really had a chance to take advantage of crowd control and focus-firing.  Since they’re all new to the game, it was a great chance for me to be able to show them a fragment of what makes this game so great for me.  I hope that at some point they may be able to step into a weekend/off-night raid with me.  Here, I lay the groundwork. =)

If you have friends that are trying to learn the game, take the time to actually play it with them.  I know how much that means to both people.  It also gives you a little break, and a little time to relax.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

In my opinion, always have at least one person you know well to go on this adventure with.  Arenas can sometimes be a great way to get out some frustration (if they go well).  If you turn off the Battleground Chat in a Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin, they can actually be pretty fun with a group of your friends.

Achievements/Holidays

Blizzard has given us this interesting little outlet to occupy our time when we’re not raiding.  Even little mindless ones involving pets or an Azeroth raid can be entertaining enough to ease your mind.  See if any of your guildmates have never seen AQ40 (I just had my first encounter before writing this).  If there’s a slew that have never been inside, show them around!  Especially if you’re in a leadership position, this shows your raiders that you’re invested in how much everyone’s enjoying the game.  Gotten all the achievements you want/need? Then just tag along for your friends’ benefit.  Share funny stories.  Reminisce about things that happened in those old raids.

———-

You can decide to do these on raid nights or outside of your standard schedule.  Think of it this way.  Although this game as fun, you want to avoid having progression start to kill your soul after a while.

What sort of things do you do in order to keep your raid’s morale high?  What do you do, as a player, to detox in-game?

ThespiusSig